Sunday, August 8, 2010

You can call me Bob: KEBAB!

I like kebabs. They're delicious, they look cool, and they're fun to cook and eat. What more could you ask for? Well, how about a recipe! I've recently come across a couple of kebab references in movies: one in Get Smart, the other in Knotting Hill. Both are funny, but the people who say the lines are British, and they say "Ke-baaab" -- I'll have to check with my Persian colleague to see how we're supposed to say it.

This recipe hails from the LCBO magazine of all places. (For anyone who stumbles upon this blog from beyond Ontario, the LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and they control all the booze sales in the province -- it's a monopoly, but they have massive buying power, decent deals, nice selection, and some pretty friendly and helpful staff: so I'll take it. They also have a cool magazine full of booze and recipes!)

This one is pretty simple. You start by making a marinade. You'll need a lime, an orange, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a couple of garlic cloves (fresh from the garden no less), some chipotle peppers, and some oregano (home grown if at all possible! I used Mexican oregano, but use whatever you have on hand). The pork is what you'll be marinating -- I chose a loin roast but the recipe calls for a tenderloin. I made the switch because the roast is bigger and there is fat on it so it makes for a juicier kebab. The pineapple will be on the skewers too.

Just a quick aside here, but isn't a pineapple an amazing thing? I have no idea how anyone ever figured out you can eat it (this is more amazing if you've ever seen one growing) but kudos to the cavepeople who brought it to our plates!

Ok. Make the marinade. First, get the zest from your lime and orange using your implement of choice. (I use an old zester my Gran used to use. I have considered getting a microplane, but just haven't found one I like -- i.e. without plastic on it.)

Then, juice the orange and the lime.

Chop one of the chipotle peppers. (This looks a little gross, sorry.) Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers. The ones in cans are chipotles in adobo. Adobo is a ketchup like sauce that makes a nice addition to the marinade. Regular chipotles (sans adobo) look like bark and are about that soft too. Go for the canned ones for this recipe and add a teaspoon of adobo to the marinade with the chopped pepper.

Chop your garlic.

Then crumble your oregano and dump the whole mess into a container that you can use for marinating (i.e. it will fit the pork, and you can cover it somehow).

Next, chop the pork. This roast was in the freezer and spent the night thawing, so it was still a little frosty. This made it easy to cut though. I chopped it into 12 chunks -- two slices lengthwise, three crosswise. Notice that each chunk has some fat on it -- essential for awesome kebabness.

Add the pork to the marinade, cover, and pop it in the fridge for 4 hours or so. Give pork a stir every now and then, or if you have a tight fitting lid, just give it all a shake.

Ok...your four hours is up. Time for supper. Step one is to get your charcoal started!

Now it's time to deal with the pineapple. First step is to twist the leaves off the top.

Now is as good a time as any to have a beer, by the way.

Give it a rinse. Then chop the ends off.

Then stand it up and work your way around with a kinfe, slicing the prickly skin off. (Did you know that a pineapple is a berry, like a strawberry? All those little compartments on the outside will form seeds just like the little seeds all over a strawberry. Cool, eh? Sometimes you'll see little black seeds while you're chopping.) I find it takes about six slices to get the skin off.

Cut the remaing tower of pineapple into four chunks.

Then remove the core from each quarter.

Then cut each of your cored quarters in half. (This looks long and complicated, but it's really fun and easy -- I just like to spell it all out in case you aren't familiar with pineapple preparation!)

And finally, cut each of your halved quarters (eighths! pineapple math!!) into three chunks with two cuts.
Whew! Time to assemble the kebabs. Dig your pork out of the fridge, and get your skewers ready. I use steel skewers because the bamboo ones a) catch fire no matter how long you soak them, b) are round so the kebab components swirl around the stick at annoying moments -- metal ones are flat, and c) they seem to stick to the meat, making your diners fling your nice pork right off the picnic table as they try to get it off the stick -- the metal ones slide out nice and clean. Your call, though.

Start threading your skewers with a piece of pineapple and alternate pork/pineapple until you've used three of each. If your pork pieces are a little long, thread them on twice -- i.e. fold them so the skewer goes through them two times. This is useful for the end piece, since it has to hold the kebab on the skewer -- if you end with pineapple it will fall off. Dump the remaing marinade over the skewers so the pineapple can have some too.

Now. In the LCBO magazine, they recommend saving the marinade and using it to baste the kebabs. I have no idea how this made it through the food safety editor. MAYBE the acid in the orange juice is enough to keep the bacteria at bay, but I wouldn't bet my next day on it (since I'd have to spend it on the can if I was wrong). Better to use it now on the raw kebabs. If you need to baste (like if you used some super lean cut of pork) then I'd recommend making a new batch of orange juice and oil instead. But if you have a nice fatty roast like I do here, just skip the whole basting pain and grill in happiness.

Speaking of which, your charcoal should be ready by now. Dump your coals and if you have some hardwood on hand (like mesquite or hickory) add a couple of chunks. Keep the coals to 2/3 of the grill and put the hardwood as far from the coals as possible. This keeps the wood smoking instead of burning (although you do need a beer at hand at all times in case the wood does catch fire -- give is a shot of suds to calm it down if it gets too rambunctious, safety first!).

See how the wood chars and smokes when kept from the coals. Awesome.

Put your kebabs over the wood rather than the coals. If you remember from my ribs posts, meat can only soak up the smoke when it is fairly cool, so start it over the smoke to get the best flavour.

Rotate the kebabs end over end, and side to side every now and then for about 15 minutes. Just jockey them around making sure nothing gets too black or stays too raw.

And here they are. How's that look? Serve with some rice, on or off the skewer as you see fit. You could add some vegetables, but the pineapple/pork combo is just great all on its own.

Hope you like it!

1 comment:

  1. I saw that NO ONE posted, so just to tell you the pineapples are delicious when roasted. Please try it for awesomeness!! Daddy, i liked the time to have a beer thing.
    Little My